A bright orange tattoo of a habanero decorates the right arm of chef Nick Hoover who hopes to cure Old Town of a lack of quality chicken wings. Hoover and his cohorts will soft-open Rabbit Hole on Thursday, inside the former Old Town Burger Saloon/Saluki Bar space at 1208 N. Wells St. Their menu includes wings spun in sauces including sweet chili and peach barbecue.
Diners won’t find ghost peppers or Carolina Reaper on the menu. Hoover is reserving a few spicer items off menu for "those who get to know us." Hoover is quick to point out they’re not just about spice, as they want to appease a wide-variety of customers. There’s a salads, burgers and a grilled candied slab bacon appetizer. The latter uses thick-cut, applewood-smoked slab bacon glazed with maple syrup. It’s a riff on a dish from New York’s legendary Peter Luger Steakhouse.
The bar’s ownership group, Glass Half Full, is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. They opened their first restaurant Old Town Gringos Restaurant and Bar, there earlier this year. Director of operations Tom Flynn said they also plan on opening a second restaurant in Chicago, also in Old Town on Wells Street.
"We’re going to have a staff that understands what it takes to take care of customers," Flynn said.
The bar will be beer focused with 24 taps and an additional 20 in cans and bottles. They took over the space on Aug. 1 and have installed 10 new flatscreen TVs above the bars. They’ve done minor work to open up the room, put in a new bar countertop, removed the old pool table and brought in new hightop tables.
Hoover, the group’s executive chef, will only be in Chicago for the opening before he moves on to help on other projects. They’ll eventually add brunch and lunch, as well. The kitchen will stay open until 11 p.m. on weekends.
And yes, there’s an "Alice In Wonderland" reference for Rabbit Hole. They’ll also serve the "2 Sides of the Shroom Burger," which comes with butter-poached shiitake and crimini mushrooms. Check out the sample menu below.